The cat stretch is great for mobilising your spine and stretching out tight back extensor muscles. This is particularly important for pregnancy as the lower back continues to try and support your growing bump.
Start on your hands and knees, with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knee underneath your hips, your back should be in a relaxed flat back position. Gently tuck the tailbone under, tipping the pelvis back and rounding the lower back. Slowly release back to the start position. You should feel a gentle stretch through the muscles in your lower back. Repeat 5-10 times.
You can do this stretch on the bed or floor, wherever is more comfortable for getting into the 4 point kneeling position.
Four Point Kneeling Pelvic Floor
Doing your pelvic floor activation on your hands and knees helps to isolate the working muscles into just the pelvic floor. In this position it is easier to feel and be aware of the activation of the upper abdominals. As your pregnancy develops you will need to learn to turn these upper abdominals off as the baby develops and grows. Too much upper abdominal activation can lead to rib pain and even rectus diastasis.
Start on your hands and knees, with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knee underneath your hips, your back should be in a relaxed flatback position. Let all your stomach muscles relax, allowing your bump to drop towards the floor. Gently lift up through the pelvic floor, without moving the lower back. Slowly release. You may struggle initially isolating the pelvic floor from the upper abdominals, so having your partner rest one hand on the lowest part of your bump and the other hand on the upper part, you can focus on moving the bump away from the lower hand and not the top. Try and keep breathing through this movement. Repeat 10 times.
Again you can do this on the bed or floor, whichever position is easier to achieve.
Bent Knee Fallout
Bent knee fallout is a classic Pilates exercise, and at a basic level it is the combination of activation of your pelvic floor while lowering the knee to the side, maintaining control, both over the pelvis itself and the pelvic floor muscles. This exercise is great if you are getting lower back pain, are struggling with pelvic floor activation and for preparation for starting Pilates classes.
Start by lying on you back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With the heel of your hands on your hips and you fingertips on you pubic bone, slowly slide the fingertips into the muscle above the pubic bone and here is where you can feel your pelvic floor activate. Gently lift up through the pelvic floor, and then slowly lower one knee down towards the floor, whilst maintaining your pelvic floor activation. Try and keep breathing normally, while maintaining your pelvic position. When you can no longer feel that you are lifting up through your pelvic floor, bring the leg back up to the start position. Repeat 10 times each side
For this exercise you will need to lie on your back, so if you are at a stage in your pregnancy where you can no longer lay on your back you will have to try an alternative exercise.
There are many great home exercises for pregnancy. To learn more about these or have a Home Program designed for your pregnancy book in to see one of our Physiotherapists for a Pilates Assessment at Bend + Mend in Sydney’s CBD.